Magical hiking shoes…

There is so much to know about hiking shoes!

www outsideonline comImage from http://www.outsideonline.com

This week, much time was spent researching.

So many details: materials, waterproofing, weight, thickness, soles, inner soles, arch and ankle support, proper sizing on flat and inclines, light boots, heavy boots, light weight shoes or sandals.

Let alone advice on foot care: breaking in boots, lace knotting, taping, powdering, oiling, foot soaking, elevation of feet, cleaning, drying, trimming nails and treating blisters.

And I haven’t even started on socks, gaiters, trousers, backpacks and other equipment.

And that’s not the end of the list, just the beginning.

www businesscomputingworld co ukImage from http://www.businesscomputingworld.co.uk

It’s quite amazing to live in a world transformed by the internet, where there is so much information accessible for just about every topic.

But information and knowledge are different from wisdom huh?

That deeply felt wisdom of the soul.

In the wake of big transitions in my life, living through grief, my deep intuitive knowing is calling me to do something big, something honouring, something monumental.

Each night, during Dad’s final days, i’d tuck myself into bed to read Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild”. The story about Cheryl’s trek along the Pacific Crest Trail following her mother’s death.  I’d often be so tired that i’d only get through a few pages.

Since my father’s death i’ve felt a fire energy rising within me. Times of fiery anger, burning me away, extinguishing my core in preparation for renewal. Cleansing me, healing me. The call to action, to do something big.

www blog designsquish comImage from http://www.blog.designsquish.com

We’re in the early planning stages of a walk from Southern France into Spain. A trek of about 780km over 50 days.

We’re not doing a sacred religious or spiritual pilgrimage, or for personal healing or transformation.

We’re not going hard or toughing it out in order to suffer or prove something. We’ll average about 15km per day, which for us, as first time hikers, feels manageable.

We’re seeking to create a ripple, an experience in our life, something big that marks the passing of our father and honours the grief of childlessness, in a way that embraces this creative fire of life.

www pinterest com 13Image from http://www.pinterest.com

In addition to advice from friends, the guides and website research on the trek, the locations, equipment, hostels etc, we’ve also been reading books about the art, the history, landscapes, the people, food and wine in this part of the world.

We don’t have a big wad of cash saved up, we’re going into debt, and although this makes me anxious, i am thankful for this blessing.

www lifeyoga com auImage from http://www.lifeyoga.com.au

With death around me, i’ve looked it in the eye and have its measure, its finality for this life is certain.  It’s a such a cliché, but to fully embrace death makes life searingly precious.

It’s time for me to stop putting life on hold and to prioritise people, experiences, dreams, and focus my energy on what really matters.

What is important to you? How do you hold it sacred and embrace it wholeheartedly?  What is the spark that calls you to action? I’d love to hear your story.

Any trekking tips or advice for a novice would be greatly appreciated as well.

Big love

sarah

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Dare to dream…

 “Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future”. Nelson Mandela

Years ago, when working with young people experiencing homelessness, I noticed that one of their greatest fears was to dream. There was this overwhelming feeling that life and people had let them down. Whilst they often secretly yearned for something different, they were afraid to dare dream, lest they be shattered again.

“It’s always easier to sabotage dreams myself, than to wait for it to happen, the waiting is the worst!” I was told.

www flickr com

Image from http://www.flickr.com

My heart always went out to them, and secretly dreamed there was an easy way for them to move forward and unlock the life they wanted. A life based on self love and acceptance, nurture and connection, being at peace. In reality, it was a slow process of listening, being respectful, offering practical support and strategies to gently move someone into their future.

The key was to honour the story and its impact, to shift perception, and to gently create and experience a new reality. For example, after listening to a life story of hardship and abuse, we would take time to pause and acknowledge the young person as an amazing survivor. This would often be a new way of seeing themselves, as more than a victim of circumstance.

www keenawareness blogspot com

Image from http://www.keenawareness.blogspot.com

Sometimes there were big shifts, sometimes small, always tempered by the complexity of human beings weathered by unjust circumstances. Even now, years later, i hold each and every young person close in my heart and wish them the very best in their lives. I particularly hope they have created the loving family they often craved.

So how do we gently nurture our hopes and dreams?

In they busy-ness of life, the paralysis of fear or adversity of life circumstances, how do we keep those secret yearnings alive and bring them into reality?

www flowliving com

Image from http://www.flowliving.com

What strategies work for you, especially when you’re feeling stuck or fearful? Perhaps a dream journal, a vision board, a gentle shift in your state of being or another method? What gets you motivated? How do you gently nurture yourself and your dreams?

Love to hear your suggestions…

Wishing you a magical day, to release fears and unlock your beautiful dreams.

Much love

sarah

Releasing the burdens 2…

www brainpickings com 2Image from http://www.brainpickings.com

Wow these last three months have been a roller coaster! So much energetic clearing since i left work. I guess when you make a commitment to yourself to heal, well, the universe just brings it on. So i’ve just held on for the ride!

One of the first tasks crying out to be done, was to de-clutter my home. I joined a 28 day de-clutter boot camp run by Helen, a friend, at Clutter Rescue. This helped with motivation and useful strategies for getting my house organized.

We have a family story where my Mum is a minimalist, organized person and my dad has a love of stuff. As i grew up there was dividing line down the centre of my parent’s bedroom, one side organized and neat, the other, well? Let’s just say I was born on my father’s side of the room!

De-cluttering might be an understatement considering what i was dealing with. Perhaps total renovation is more accurate. Here’s the worst example, my messy back room!

IMGP0007I am someone who exists on the physical, mental / emotional and spiritual planes. I experience the material world as consisting of differing energies and in my cosmology the outer world reflects the internal world. Stuckness, or clutter, in my physical environment reflects energies stuck in my body, heart and mind, and the auric field. The truth is that not just my physical but my internal environment and energy field also needed de-cluttering. I was carrying a massive burden.

Here are some wisdom cards to help describe the experience.

TheBurdenImage from Osho Zen Tarot.

For me the first step is to identify the burdens that we carry. These include the physical possessions, the emotions, the beliefs systems, the thoughts, the old patterns of behaviour that are weighing us down. Some of the baggage includes self criticism, guilt, procrastination, perfectionism etc

The tanaste

Image from the Celtic Wisdom Oracle.

The second step is to make the decision to drop or release these burdens. This card (the inverted tanaste) suggests dropping the patterns of the ego – self criticism, fear, shame, dropping the lies that the false self tells us.

The Way-ShowerImage from the Celtic Wisdom Oracle.

The third step (the way shower) is to create an internal place of calm, to step into the stillness, the empty space. In this place of silence, it is about learning to hear, trust and follow your intuition. It will show you the signposts, the strategies, the tasks needed, when to take action and when to have a break.

The Prophet

Image from the Celtic Wisdom Oracle.

Final step (the prophet) – Learning how to be in your essence, that place of stillness and to allow all action to flow with ease from this beautiful energetic place. For me this energy starts with an open uncluttered heart and illuminates the expansiveness of the clear mind. It’s not just about listening to intuition but trusting it enough to follow it as well. In a way this is about handing it over and trusting the universe to assist in resolving it. When we do this, things seem to have a magical way of falling into place.

Going through the shedding process, the letting go can be confronting and challenging. Ask yourself – why am i holding onto this stuff? What fears are driving me or stopping me from letting go? For example – I recycled about 20 boxes of work materials, old papers, teaching materials, project materials, research material etc. I was holding on to these as they represented my employability skills and my fear of not being able to generate an income.

So how did i go? In some ways i felt like a failure as i didn’t achieve the goal within the timeframe. The first two days i was sick and barely got out of bed. My goal was massive, to organize my whole house within 28 days. The time frame, for me was a little unrealistic.

back room decluttered

The truth was that i was absolutely exhausted and burned out after leaving work. All i wanted to do was sleep, take it slowly, cook luscious food, heal and nurture myself and my family. I did go slowly, did a walking meditation each day with my dog Max at the local dog park. As I gently flowed through each day, lots of the ego stuff came up to be examined and released. I learned to be kind and gentle with myself whilst stepping through the work. I committed to at least one action each day towards de-cluttering.

The 28 day boot camp was the start for me and it extended into a cleanup that still continues. I am so proud of the results. I can definitely recommend making this a priority in your life.

www brainpickings comImage from http://www.brainpickings.com

I wish for you every inspiration, clarity and joy in your living space. Your home is your nest and a place for your heart to overflow with love and your mind to soar with creative inspiration.

Much love
Sarah

Out of this process, I’ve developed some workshops. The first is “Making your home into a heart space”. If you’d like to know more about these, please contact me – email thespiritualhomemaker@gmail.com

Wishing you abundance, profound peace and joy!

When sorry is not an apology…

oceana

Image from Doreen Virtue “messages from your angels”.

I used to say sorry a lot. An awful lot. It can become a meaningless habit, a short hand word, a social lubricant used to smooth social situations. Often ones in which there may not be anything for which to apologise or for which someone may not be genuinely sorry. Other people may find it virtually impossible to apologise, to say sorry for how they have impacted on others, the shame of engaging with their own imperfections, the guilt of what they have done or perhaps the fear of rejection or intimacy is too great. Others may be unaware of their impact on others.

Examples of the use of sorry could include:

– The expression of egoic imperfection such as “i’ve forgotten your birthday” or “i’ve managed to use really clumsy words and emotions to express myself and i have offended you”, sorry
– Social graces and politeness – “i’ve stepped in front of you”, sorry
– Social embarrassment for someone who doesn’t take responsibility for themselves “you’ve walked into me”, sorry,
– Apology for your truth “you haven’t listened and i’m trying to state my truth”, sorry
– Apology for someone else’s stuff, their emotional reaction to something you’ve done “you’ve had an emotional reaction”, sorry
– An apology for being “I’m speaking my truth or taking up too much space”, sorry

Women in particular are good at apologising for their truth and the space they take up in the world. Here’s a fab talk by a young woman Lily on Upworthy which articulates it incredibly well.

taking up too much roomImage from http://www.anonymousartofrevolution.com

A genuine apology is an act of tremendous courage and an act of forgiveness is a gift of incredible loving kindness.

So what is a genuine apology?

Some years ago i attended a Festival of Ideas and saw a lecture by Johan Galtung, an international peace negotiator and academic. He spoke wisely about the nature of a genuine apology. He said it involved three parts

  1. An account of what you have done, stated in the first person, not “i am sorry that you got upset when…” but “i am sorry that i did, said…”
  2. A willingness to listen to an account of how this has impacted on the other person
  3. A commitment to learning, change, healing or action to ensure that it won’t happen again

So what are or can we be responsible for?
– To accept responsibility for ourselves, for our actions, omissions, our imperfections stemming from our ego, the courage to be imperfect to be truly seen
– To accept responsibility for ourselves and our reactions, bearing in mind that most of our reactions come from the human ego not the divine spirit within us
– To listen, truly listen to how we may have impacted on others, being mindful that we are not responsible for the reactions of others, merely our behaviours
– A commitment to seeing our imperfections, accepting them, lovingly embracing not criticising them and embracing growth and change. What action do we need to take to ensure we are not continuing to repeat these patterns? What do we need to learn and/or to heal?

john-lennon-self loveImage from linaway.com

In my experience, when operating from a place that is not self loving, i am more likely to act in a way that negatively impacts on others. When i am off centre, operating from unchecked ego, out of balance with my loving core, then i may not be kind or loving towards other people.

Some patterns towards others when we are not self loving include:
– Loss of self, giving up of self to the expectations of others, giving and merging with others, can also be used as a way of controlling others
– Making oneself invisible, accommodating to the needs and expectations of others to the point of giving up one’s own power and own agenda
– Controlling expectations of others, often developed from a young age when a child feels powerless, they might use their mental expectations of others as a way of asserting control

This week i was offered and gave a precious gift. It was the gift of reconciliation. A dear friend and i had a conversation about a misunderstanding that had occurred about 18 months ago. We entered the conversation with open hearts, speaking our truth and listening to the other, really genuinely listening at a very deep level. It was scary, it was painful, it was brave and courageous, it was sacred.
reconciliationImage from filipspagnoli.wordpress.com

Reconciliation is a precious gift. It is the gift of a second chance. A willingness to engage in a conversation that can lead to forgiveness demonstrates faith in another person’s capacity to grow and change over time, to take responsibility for their actions. The passage of time can allow someone to be in a different place and have a different perspective.

There is a lingering pain that can stem from the regret of a friendship lost, particularly if you have changed, learned the lesson and not been given the opportunity for reconciliation.
Reconciliation can take time, authenticity, listening, speaking your truth, being vulnerable, being whole hearted, allowing oneself to be seen, including one’s imperfections.Brene Brown has done some great social research on embracing your imperfections and living wholeheartedly.

Reconciliation is the meeting of equals, it requires listening with an open empathic heart to another person’s truth and speaking your truth with insight and courage. Some of the most courageous people i know are the ones who see their flaws and own them as part of their whole being. Empathy is listening and feeling the experience from the other person’s perspective, not from your own. How did they feel about the situation? How did they experience it? How did it impact of them?

Trust the processLet go & Trust the Process: Unveil Your Gift, Libby Creagh. Image from www.elephantjournal.com

Where possible, i also suggest entering into the conversation with no expectations of an outcome, trusting the process and not being afraid of silence, to listen and digest what the other person has said. The friendship may or may not continue. Sometimes the best outcome of such a conversation is to allow you to move to a place of peace and letting go of the stuckness and conflict. It may be that you no longer continue the friendship, but you’ve let go of it from a state of grace, rather than holding on to pain and regret.

Conflict is an inevitable result of diversity and difference, when it arises it can be an opportunity for intimacy and growth.One thing i have noticed is that conflicts that occur over and over in different relationships may be a repeating pattern where we haven’t learned the lesson of our own ego. In which case, it is likely to occur again until we get it.

I wish for the blessing of healing and reconciliation in your life.

Much love
Sarah

I’d love to hear your feedback and reflections on this.

Keep the change, perhaps…

Recently a friend of mine invited me to an upmarket women’s lunch, a beautiful invitation to a fashion event at a swish hotel. Quite an ‘out of the box’ thing for me to do. It later transpired that i couldn’t go, but that’s another story. The lunch cost $95, even when i was working that was a lot of cash, but it was a one off treat. I caught up with my friend a month later and i gave her $100 to cover the cost. I started to say “keep the change…” but then i stopped. In the intervening time, I had stopped working, so my relationship with money and physical resources had shifted. I gave myself permission to receive the change and be clear with myself about it’s value to me, and no guilt trips for seeming ungenerous.

It’s about perspective. Once $5 was a couple of times daily cup of coffee or some loose change…

sm-artjohn-mills-coffee-20140113123548399684-300x0Image from www.goodfood.com.au

but now $5 looks more to me like this…

IMGP0049A $5 bargain box from the local fruit shop.

I wanted to start by saying that this post isn’t intended as some lecture from the moral high ground about material resources. It’s a reflection on my journey, some of which may resonate for you. If you are living on a low income, a single mum with three children or another low income circumstance, then I’m telling you nothing new. In fact you’re probably highly conscious of the value of money and a total whiz at making the most of very little and i could learn a lot from you.

The experience above, caused me to pause and reflect on my relationship and attitude during my life to physical resources. To acknowledge the privileges i have in my life and highlight areas or attitudes of lack. Sometimes this has been blind privilege, not just in relation to  physical resources, but to other gifts, such as health, personal attributes such as intelligence, motivation, opportunities for education, family and friendships, the capacity to love etc. In fact when i open myself to it, i am so grateful and thankful for these blessings. I sometimes think we’d be such a kinder society if we were not so blind to our own privileges and blessings.

When i stopped work i received a payout. A useful amount that we put straight onto the mortgage. When the payment came into my account, i expected to be filled by joy and relief. It was the celebration of the end of this phase of my life, the culmination of a dream and a handy payout to accompany it. Instead I panicked and was filled with dread. I was struck with the reality that this was the final pay, no more money was coming in from me for the foreseeable future. A friend of mine who’d made a similar leap of faith a couple of years ago, reassured me that this was normal and she experienced the same. So it wasn’t about lacking gratitude, it was my fear of stepping away from a secure income into the unknown. For me money had become a symbol of security, independence and freedom. I now question that. Was I actually a slave to this belief system? Was I compromising my essence to earn the money?

BU010606Image from skintdad.co.uk

Since i’ve been working i’ve been reasonably canny with money, bought a house early to minimise paying rent. The hard work and forgone opportunities over the years have set me up with a few more options. This has been a conscious choice. Mostly though, i haven’t had to think too much about money, no clear budget, i have been accustomed to being able to purchase items at will, as there was pay coming in next fortnight. Fortunately my financial aspirations were never too high – no yachts, concord tickets or high fashion items in my wardrobe, but i’ve always had enough to buy a book here, a crystal there, a take out meal out without thinking too much about it.

When i stopped work i worried that i would find it hard to stop spending. To my suprise, it was very easy. The day i stopped work, spending just came to a halt. I realised that i used shopping as a balm to nurture myself and as a reward for the amount of time and energy i was giving to others. Once my time became my own and i stepped into my own self nurturing power, the desire to spend just fell away.

Now i have the time and energy to scour the shops for bargains, to do the research and find the best prices, to keep an eye on ebay, go to garage sales, 2nd hand shops, school fetes, to come back tomorrow or next week when things are on special. I am now consciously aware of what i have, and have the headspace to work out how to be clever with it. The difference between needs and wants is now so much clearer. I now have time to grind the beans and make myself coffee each morning.

single guys house blendImage from eatdrinkandbekerry.blogspot.com

Study after study has shown that money only affects happiness if it makes the difference between surviving or not. Beyond survival, money has no impact on happiness. Once your basic physical needs are met (food, water, shelter, health care, physical safety etc), happiness beyond that is about expectations and attitude.

So abundance and happiness are an internal state of being.

(Although i still laugh at the joke that i might not be happy but i can anchor my yacht next to happiness and have a great view of it! )

Some dear friends of mine are from a pacific island country and i am blessed by their perspective. They grew up on subsistence level living, where having crops for food and a few pigs and chooks was abundance. I learned from them that wealth is not about material resources. A person’s wealth can be measured by their relationships with family, friends and community. My dear friends spend a lot of time, energy and money on sending money back home, nurturing their relationships, taking time to yarn and tell stories, they would literally give the shirt off their back if someone needed it more than them. When my friends go back home, everything they take with them, all their clothing and material possessions are given to their community. They come back with love, memories and beautiful connections that are far more valuable.

chookImage from www.svquest.com

A couple of years ago when i travelled to the middle east and north Africa with my sister, i was confused that items often didn’t seem have a price on them. “Why?” i asked. The answer i was given was that there is no fixed price, the value of something is how much someone is willing to pay and what the vendor is willing to sell. So the value of something depends on attitude and negotiation, how much it means to the vendor and buyer.

In the last year, when work felt more of a drag and effort, i started to look at the price of items in a new way. Previously i was accustomed to having a pool of cash or credit and just drawing from it if i felt like it. I had disconnected my own work and effort required to bring in that money. The shift happened when i started to calculate the price of items according to my hourly rate of pay. I began to say, that item is 2 or 4 hours work. Is that item worth two hours work to me, or not?  This helped me to value my time in a new way.

Today i splashed out and bought a take away cup of coffee, i took the time to savour it, taste it and it felt abundantly luxurious to not have to make it myself. Best coffee i’ve had in ages!

Wishing you a day of peace and abundance!

Much love
Sarah

PS I’d love to hear some of your experiences and perspectives on money.

PPS Just been sent this. A good link to the economics and manufacture of desire.. When i was 19, i studied marketing at University, it was mostly about psychologically manipulating people to spend money on products they may not need. Interesting read!

A most underrated quality…

“Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Mark Twain

Recently my parents, now in their mid seventies, downsized their house. From a large double story old Queenslander house, they moved into an apartment in town. A brave and adventurous move for them and the start of a new chapter of their lives. It has been inspiring to watch them release the burdens and responsibilities of possessions and bask in this new found freedom. They have been tremendously generous to me and my siblings with the gifting of their cherished items. One of my beautiful gifts was this Royal Doulton stag and deer sandwich platter. An item that came from my father’s mother, my grandmother Hilda.

14 1 19 stag and deer

Now I love this platter. In fact i love it so much that i kept my eye out on ebay and bought a few companions for it. This was in the days of working when i had some extra money to spend.

IMGP0008

This item means a lot to me. Not just because it is a gift from people who i love deeply, but also because for me it captures the essence of close family members. The stag and deer  represent gentle strength. These are qualities that my father and partner Kevin have in spades. My grandmother Hilda also had it. It is easy to assume that someone who is gentle is weak and easily manipulated. Nothing could be further from the truth. Public images of masculine strength often involve outward displays of physicality, toned muscles, testosterone, fire fighters rescuing vulnerable people from burning buildings or tough guys in action movies.

The strength that i admire is far more subtle and for me more beautiful. This is strength that comes from within. It is an internal core of strength disguised in a covering of gentleness and often kindness. Kindness is a most under rated quality, but one which i love. I am not a naturally kind person, but i have been fortunate to learn from others who are kind in their essence or who have chosen to nurture this quality in themselves.

Kindness is not about being patronising or diminishing another, nor it is about manipulating another or giving with expectation. It isn’t about being cheesy or operating from obligation. It is a quality that comes from the heart. Being thoughtful. It stems from a core belief in the goodness and value of other beings. It’s about supporting them in their wholeness. The best kindness is gentle, unexpected, when someone reaches in and softly touches your heart. Genuine kindness always moves me.

gentle strength

Image from www.quotesvalley.com

This is not the false kindness of social role or duty, but it is about being authentic and genuine. I particularly admire social kindness, such as:

  • valuing relationships as part of connected community, rather than competitively scaling a social hierarchy
  • welcoming someone into your world, listening to them and sharing from your heart, gently filling in the awkward conversational gaps,
  • speaking to the best attributes of another, seeking more information when you don’t understand,
  • choosing gentle silence or diplomatically avoiding topics that may cause discomfort,
  • being truly empathic in seeing the world from their perspective, giving someone the benefit of the doubt,
  • knowing, accepting and loving people in their wholeness and differences, including their imperfections
  • being self aware, particularly of the your own egoic triggers, managing and taking responsibility for them and not projecting them onto others.

Kindness is the ability to suspend judgement, to listen to another person’s story and to feel it on an emotional level, to feel how they experienced the situation. It’s not about being stepped over, having no boundaries, it comes from that core strength, not being afraid to be gentle and vulnerable. People sometimes say they feel “political correctness” has gone too far, but i always think of it as being kind and thoughtful to others, of which i’d love to see more.

I have a few friends who are wildlife carers, really they are animal whisperers. An ability to connect with the essence of the animal in a way that makes them feel safe and heard. This incredible ability comes from being kind, gentle, yet strong. Loving the animal and knowing its true nature, not their projected image. They are in touch with their own vulnerability and gentle strength. They take the time and create the space for animals to come to them on their own terms.

act-of-kindness2

Image from worldtravaillers.com

This morning i woke up feeling very emotionally flat. Fuzzy head, a bit sad and down. In the past i would have looked for the reason, the story that justified these feelings or i’d reach for a cup of coffee to chemically numb myself or talk myself up, pep myself into action to get things moving and push this behind me.

After many years, i’ve learned to be kinder to myself. I do this by taking a deep breath and just allowing myself to be wherever i am. To suspend judgement, to gently observe myself, to quieten my thoughts, perhaps to meditate, to observe the energy patterns, where do they sit in my body? Where are they stuck? I may lie in the pillows and drop into a nurturing space of allowing myself just to be. I quietly got up and took Max down to the dog park, just allowing myself to be, I gently walked five laps of the park and by the end the feelings had dissipated with ease. On the way home i stopped for a lovely unexpected chat with my neighbour who was riding her horse down our street.

Today i wish kindness and gentleness for you and for others when the moments present.

Much love
Sarah